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Panel is told Nebraska needs to tighten boat dealer law

Nebraska should close a loophole that allows people to avoid paying sales taxes on their boats, a legislative panel was told Friday.

Jack Gould of Common Cause said his research found that about 155 people have registered as boat dealers in Nebraska. He said the list includes actual dealers, but also people whose legitimacy as boat dealers he questions, the Omaha World-News reports.

Gould dug into the matter last year after questions arose about state Sen. Kent Rogert using dealer tags on his 1996 Baja 272. At the time, Rogert said, he was a legitimate, but small, boat dealer and was not trying to avoid sales tax. He has since paid taxes on the boat, which he bought in 2003.

Gould spoke at an interim study hearing before the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

In a letter to the committee, Cathy Brink, a boat dealer with Beaver Lake Marina, said she believes dealer tags should be restricted to businesses that sell boats.

"I find it ironic that I must be licensed to sell minnows and am required to report on those sales and renew that license annually, but I can sell boats, motors and trailers and transfer title to those items with no licensing requirements from the state," she said.

There have been previous discussions about tightening Nebraska's boat dealer law, but no proposal has passed.

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